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NRA wins Washington case, stops gun control initiative from going to ballot

(AP)

Organizers behind gun control Initiative 1639 did not comply with state signature gathering rules, according to a Thurston County superior court judge who ruled in favor of the NRA Friday. I-1639 will now be removed from the November ballot.

“The National Rifle Association is glad to see the court today recognized how negligent, if not worse, gun control advocates were in their signature-gathering for this ill-advised ballot initiative,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA.

RELATED: Initiative puts Sec. of State Wyman in awkward position

Gun rights advocates protested the manner in which I-1639 collected signatures in Washington state. Secretary of State Kim Wyman even commented that her office has never seen an initiative effort conducted in such a way — with tiny font, and without clear indications of how the initiative would change existing law.

“We’ve gone back and looked at initiatives that have been submitted before – we’ve never seen one with this format,” Wyman previously told KTTH Radio’s Todd Herman. “They literally included word-for-word everything they submitted when they first turned in their initiative. All the words are there, but it’s the way and the manner in which they presented them that is different … It’s the way they are presented that can be confusing to some.”

But Wyman also said that her authority as secretary of state did not extend to denying the initiative — she only ensured that they gathered the required number of signatures. This prompted the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation to file separate lawsuits over I-1639.

“We got involved because I-1639 tramples on the rights of Washington state voters, and because the way these anti-gun activists went about pushing their agenda was egregious,” Cox said. “We applaud this decision, and will remain vigilant in protecting the constitutional freedoms of all Americans.”

The initiative had many components.

“The goal here is really to make sure that our schools and our communities are safe from the kind of gun violence that terrorizes our country and even our state and city regularly, and all too often,” said Tallman Trask with the Alliance For Gun Responsibility which was behind the initiative.

Trask explained to KIRO Radio in June that the initiative does three main things:

  • Raises the age to purchase semiautomatic assault weapons in Washington to 21 (currently 18).
  • Creates enhanced background checks for those weapons.
  • Requires safe storage of firearms, and charges gun owners if their weapon is obtained and used by an unauthorized person.

Much like a bill in the Legislature (SB 6620) that failed in the last session, those increased background checks for semiautomatic rifles would mean putting the buyer through both a federal and state background check. This is similar to what handgun customers in Washington currently go through. Right now, people buying semiautomatic rifles only have to pass the federal background check.

Kim Wyman’s office released a statement:

 

“No matter the issue, this office has a long track record of protecting the people’s constitutional right to initiative and referendum. Whenever questions are raised about petitions submitted by initiative-backers facing a statutory deadline, my office has consistently acted accordingly.

“I want to thank Judge Dixon for ruling on this matter in time for the state and counties to begin printing ballots for the November General Election. With the guidance now provided to us by the court, we can proceed with election preparations on schedule.”

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